VIA Rail manager refused to abandon staff

Arbitrator slashes penalty for manager who didn't want to leave two workers stranded 900 kilometres from home
|Canadian Employment Law Today

A VIA Rail worker who refused to abandon two employees almost 900 kilometres from home had his punishment reduced by the Canada Arbitration Board.

Réjean Martineau, a service manager, was given a two-year demotion after he refused to abandon two of his Montreal-based crew members in the Gaspé Peninsula when ordered to do so by a supervisor.

When the train from Montreal to Gaspé stopped in New Carlisle, Que., the passengers were told they had to get off the train and continue by bus to their destination. (It wasn’t clear in the case why the switch was made from train to bus.) VIA wanted two employees to accompany the passengers on the buses. When no volunteers could be found, Martineau told the two most junior employees to go. Both employees refused because they were tired and did not want to be on buses with 50 angry passengers. Martineau then asked the other employees and found two more senior employees willing to go.